On your special day

Today is Crystal's birthday. She probably suspects I'm secretly posting this, so I don't claim to surprise her with it. She is by no means old, older than me, yes, but not in that 'old' category yet. Despite me telling her she can turn 29 again, I think she is prepared to face life as a trigenarian. I tend to take birthdays not always as a celebratory time, but more a time of reflection and thankfulness as another year passes.

Ten years ago, I doubt Crystal would have thought her life would be in the place it is today. Ten years ago for me I would be in the same shoes as her. I'm fortunate enough to have a beautiful, loving wife who is raising two wonderful boys. She amazes me with how much she accomplishes in such little time. For those of you who are parents, I'm sure you are knowledgeable to the talents that toddlers possess in tearing up any room in a matter of minutes. Toddlers weren't prepared for Crystal though; before I turn around, the room is cleaned, vacuumed, in order and re-decorated.

Sure, I can't contain her craftiness, and sometimes that leads to furniture being redistributed in rooms and re-purposed, it may lead to 52 simultaneous projects and 12 custom orders, and the constant humming of that sewing machine. Neither of us would have it any other way. I'm thankful for this blog in that she can share her life with others, and document our sons' first years. I'm thankful for the joy it brings when she receives praise, positive comments, and consistent support.

As Crystal turns 30 I am thankful for this blog for the reasons mentioned above, I'm thankful for Etsy and the joy it brings my wife. I'm thankful for being able to get to this point in my life with Crystal and sharing so much together. I'm thankful that marriage is so easy with her. I'm thankful that she is a sounding board, a constant support, an ever present voice of reason, and is always challenging, both to her and myself. Her continous self-motivation is admirable, she has an inability to settle for adequacy when excellence can be achieved. As each year passes, I continue to be able to say "this year has been the best so far." A great deal of that is due to Crystal's push towards fulfilling our potentials.

I'm a pensive, analytical person, but I've thought this one out over and over, and have yet to resort to a different answer. Crystal, simply put, is who I needed. She truly is everything I need, if you think about that magnitude of what that says, it is awe-inspiring. Supurlatives would not do justice, and I'm sure people don't want to read over and over about that.

Going back to my idea of birthdays and using them to reflect and be thankful, I love my wife, and am thankful everyday for her. I tell her everyday I love her. In taking Crystal's idea and using this blog to encourage others, I encourage you guys to do the same with your spouse.

I love you Crystal.

-"The" Doug
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dealing with disaster.

we're dealing with what i hope is a minor issue...but it has set off a chain reaction in my home...so much for doing anything fun for my birthday tomorrow huh? :)

be back so soon!
xo
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new tricks and a hot mess.

Look what the youngest member of our family can do now?
He still forgets to remember to sit up sometimes...but he can still do it. :)
And I have no other words for this but "hot mess".
I have no idea what to do with it...it's about 12 or so inches across. :)
But I love to look at it.

Made completely with scraps from other projects...and scraps from my latest quilt...see why you shouldn't throw out those scraps?

Does it make you want a messy flower?
Go see Julie...she'll hook you up. :)

Any ideas on what I should do with it?

xo
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thanks guys.

so yeah.
you guys have made officially made it impossible to live with my husband.
why? you ask.
because he made bot B.
the bot that most of you liked more.
and he has not shut up about it.

at one point he said to me:
"of course they like mine more...i'm craftier than you are"
the nerve.
that brat.
and he keeps saying it.
i told him if he says it again i'm going to punch him in the face.
he said "no, i'll punch you in the face and create something better out of it...
because I am craftier than you".
he will not shut up.

so thanks guys.
it is impossible to live him.
you can have him.
his things will be packed and waiting.

xo

(p.s. in case you can't tell doug and i speak sarcasm fluently.
we never have nor would ever punch each other in the face.
but he did say that he was craftier than me.
i still love you guys.
thanks for playing.
and we plan on making lots of different robot favors.)
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ready? set. go! week one.

ok, ya'll.
are you ready to get this party started?
First I want you lay your fabric out all pretty like, then take a photo of it...then put a link in the comments on this post.
I want to see whatcha workin' with.
I'm going to do my best to explain each step just as simply as I can and still be clear.
If you find that I am not so clear...then you can leave your questions in the comments and I will answer them there.
OR you can pop on over to Old Red Barn Co and see how they did the quilt-along.

Now you want to start with nice smooth fabric. If it is ridiculously bumpy and crinkled up then you will probably have to iron it.
I didn't iron at all for this part...I just make sure everything is smoothed out and there are no folds in the fabric.
Ok...holding your fabric lengthwise...you will want to line up the two selvage edges....like when you make a card and you fold the paper in half...you line up the two sides nice and straight.
Smooth it out making sure there are no folds or bumps and keep the edges even with each other.
You will have the two selvage edges and the fold.
Next, you will want to line up the fold with the selvage edges by folding it in half again.
So you are basically folding the half yard in half once and then again...lining up only the selvage edges and the fold...we will take care of the messy edges in a minute.
See? Nice and neat.
Now turn your fabric so that your nice neat selvage edges can be lined up along one of the lines on your cutting mat...it doesn't matter which just so that it is lined up nice and vertical to the vertical lines on your mat---you can click on the photo to make it bigger.
Then pick a line on your cutting guide and line that up with your selvage edges too.
Make yours look like mine above...you are basically trying to clean up the cut of the fabric and make right angles and straight lines.
Make sense?
Then, with your cutting guide as close to the edge as you can get while still cutting all of the folds of the fabric you make your nice straight cut with your rotary cutter.
No more messy edge.
Rotate it again and line it up like the above...see how nice and crisp that corner is?
This is the hardest part, I promise...unless you hate to iron like me, then this is the second hardest part. :)
Now...keeping your fabric nice and lined up like the above, use your cutting guide to mark off two and a half inches in from the side...line up the guide at the top and the bottom of your cutting mat to be sure you are cutting straight.
Then take a deep breath and using your rotary cutter...CUT!
Do that again every 2 1/2 inches.
You will get 6-7 loooong strips like this depending on the cut of your fabric.
Repeat this process with all of your yardage.

How was that?
Please tell me how I can make this better if it is too confusing
or if you don't get what I am saying or if you need more photos.
I hope I didn't make it seem harder than it is...you are just cutting long straight cuts of fabric that are 2 1/2in wide.

Leave any questions in the comments and don't forget to show us your fabrics!

xo


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our uncle b.

Around here, we don't tend to define family solely based on who we are related by blood.
Family, to us, is also who you make it.
Sometimes even more so.
As I said sometime back, as soon as I realized that I could have this blog printed in book form, I wanted to be sure to make this blog a scrapbook of sorts that tells my boys what their life was like as kids...when the vividness of childhood fades from their lives, I want them to be able to look back and remember the special people and memories that formed who they grew to be.
Uncle B is one of those special people.

A little history first...Uncle B knew my parents before I was born...all I know is that he was a constant in my life. And we have always called him Uncle B. We only saw him a few times during the year but you could always count on him to show up for at least three specific times.
At Easter every year he showed up and did the best Easter Egg hunts...there were always hundreds of eggs hidden about to find...as I got older he would do one extravagant hunt just for me, as the oldest child, that would lead us all over the country side in search of the super egg!
At back to school time, he would show up to take us back to school shopping. Always much needed clothes and school supplies...exciting to all of us.
And then at Christmas...he would always show up in the nick of time to take us out to the mall...once there he would give us a little cash and let each of us go do some Christmas shopping on our own, something we wouldn't have gotten to do otherwise.

There were other adventures and fun memories too...to the zoo, the amusement parks, historical sites, etc. He sent me to camp two or three summers in a row and did the same for my sister years later. He bought me the car that I own now...at a time where I had nothing or no means to get one on my own. He bought me my first prom dress.
I have a lot of special memories of Uncle B growing up.
And believe me...it is NOT that he spent some money on us that sticks in my head...it is that he cared and continues to do so for no reason that he HAS to.

He has never once asked for anything but honesty and communication on my part.
He has never held anything he has done for me over my head. Ever.
It is baffling to me that he, someone who is not related by blood, has stuck around and done so much.

And now he is part of my boys lives. He comes down here to see us about every other weekend and spends the whole day. Spends nearly every moment he is here playing on the floor with Moses...tinkering with tools or going to the playgrounds...hardly doing anything that Moses doesn't want him to do. He doesn't shower Moses with gifts...he showers him with something far more important...his undivided attention.

When Moses naps...Uncle B is out working on my car, or some house project we have going on, or teaching Doug something about his car.
And then he'll buy us dinner...or go the store and get stuff to grill.
All the while with Moses in his shadow.

He has already made an impression on my boys. At bedtime every night we pray with Moses...every night we get to the part where we say "and Moses is thankful for..." and we let Moses fill in the blanks...his first thing is always "Untol B".

Even before mommy or daddy or anyone else...and I am OK with that.
Because I know he loves my boys, loves them like they were his own grandchildren...he invests his time and energy and love in them.
And Moses listing Uncle B first in his prayers shows me that he feels that love.

That doesn't mean that there aren't others who love my boys as much...
but it is special to me that MY uncle B is now OUR uncle B.
And I am excited to see all the fun memories that THEY will get to make with him.

:)

xo


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settle our beef.

we're on a mission.
our favorite oldest son is turning three soon.
ok, october.
but i have learned since having a second child that it takes me twice as long to do things as it did before...so where i would normally start planning his party a month in advance...i am now starting two months before hand.
we want it to be awesome.
we have tons of fun ideas.
this weekend we set out to start working on our ideas for favors.
meet bot A.
meet bot B.
doug made one and i made the other.
he thinks his is better.
i think mine is.
so we thought we would have some silly fun.
and let you vote.
:)
the only "rule" we had was that their bodies had to be slinkys...they are still in their boxes.
the rest of them is made from random things we had or purchased...
the purpose being that as a whole...it would be a cool party favor.
but when the kid gets sick of their robot...they could be dismantled for more fun.
i can't wait to share our other ideas with you.
by the time we are done...you will be all set to throw your own robot party.
:)

so weigh in please...join our silly fun!

which do you prefer?
bot A?
or bot B?

i'll let you know whose is whose at the end of the week!

xo
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It's almost ready to ship out...
just need to iron it and trim some thread...
and make the backing...
then it is off to the magical land of quilting!
I can hardly wait!
This cute chalk board used to be a less than great oil painting that I got at a yard sale for $1!
a coat of chalkboard paint over the painting and freshening up of the frame makes it much cuter.

I'm trying to do a simple verse with Moses every so often...inspired by Julie...I thought this one was a good place to start...if you ask him what it says he says "love God, love burgers"...those too. :)
And here is a SUPER easy oven fried chicken recipe...a family favorite.

spray cooking dish with cooking spray.
dip thawed chicken tenderloins or breasts in flour,
then egg(beaten),
then italian bread crumbs.
place in baking dish.
spray the top with the cooking spray...this makes it crispy.
sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
cook at 375 until done...approx 45-55 minutes.

done. easy. yum.

and...tiffany---now you have to learn to knit cause you are the proud new owner of some cute handmade needles! contact me via etsy to claim your prize!

we'll have another giveaway tomorrow!!!!

xo
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sweet. new. what you need.

this boy is sweet.
though he is also wild and crazy.
and loud and silly.
he is also very sweet.
last night he thanked me for dinner.
the other day he asked if being naughty made Jesus sad.
and he will spontaneously tell you that Jesus lives in his heart..."and daddy heart, and mommy heart, and grandma heart, and bop-bop heart..."
he is such a sweet little stinker.
new item in the shop...this idea has lived in my head for months...feels so good to have it out!
a question for you...
do you think there is a market for pillow cases made from designer fabrics?
just an idea that i have been toying with...they would just be simple pillow cases...but made from some of these yummy fabrics we see everywhere...i think they would run around $20 a pair...
what do you think?
and i am SO excited that so many of you want to quilt along with me.
i will aim to have our first post ready to go NEXT wednesday.
and do one post a week.
but you can really work at your own pace.

here are some things you will need:
rotary cutter
cutting guide
self-healing mat
(you can get all of these things at Joanne's and
in case you didn't know you can use a Michael's coupon at Joanne's)
iron
sewing machine
thread
1/2 yard of 12 different fabrics
(this is for the front-you can't really tell how much fabric or batting you will need until you are finished with the facing...depends on the cut of the fabric)
you will eventually need some fabric for the back and batting to go in between...
but we will get to that eventually.

You can wash, dry and iron your fabrics before we start.

I won't do this...I like the look you get if you wash and dry it after it is made.
And I must warn you...I am NOT a perfectionist.
I never pin, only iron if I really have to and am kind of queen of "good enough". :)

I am pretty good at getting the same result as anyone else just in my own way...
my math teachers never appreciated this about me...I got a lot of half credit for not using the formula...even if I did get the right answer! :)

So I hope this makes you feel at home?!

Are you less intimidated now?

Good...now go order your fabrics so we can get started!
xo
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he loves me. i love you.

i know moses loves me again.
i made him another shirt.
this one he has worn.
please tell me you can tell what it is?
right?
(a cozy coupe, duh!)
this was his pose of choice. not mine.
and this IS moses.
he is about to go through a growth spurt, can you tell?
i finally convinced him to wear his dj lance shirt.
it cost me 2 m&ms and 3 pennies.
and then he would only wear it backwards.
how funny is that?
until we made brownies.
he was willing to turn it around for a beater from the batter.
funny kid.
and because I love you...I will tell you to make this.
this is meg's blueberry buckle.
with five cups of blueberries...
i know one of my favorite relatives would deem this breakfast appropriate. :)
and i would agree.
it was easy and super tasty.
go do this now while blueberries are still super cheap!

xo
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how to...make knitting needles.

Need a gift for a knitty friend?

Why not make them some custom knitting needles...with your own two hands.

It's easy...you can do it.
Promise.
You will need...
two dowel rods cut to 13in each
(your choice of width-can be shorter or longer also-depends on the knitter)
at least two big buttons...more if you like...you can't have too many.
super glue
tacky glue
pencil sharpener
sandpaper(nail file works well)
white candle
Start by sharpening one end of each needle with your sharpener.
Sand down the rough and too sharp parts with your sandpaper.
(If you want to paint these you can but do it before you go on to the next step).
Stack your buttons like so...biggest on the bottom...glue them together with super glue.
Put a dab of glue on the non sharp end of your dowel, place buttons on...
big one closest to the dowel.
Then put a dab of glue on the top of the button stack...
Like so.
The glue will melt down into the button holes and hold it all together nicely.
They are cute already huh?
Thread spools make nice holders while your glue dries.
If your dowel is not all that smooth...you can rub it down with the wax from your candle...this will make it all smooth and nice like. :)
Ta-da!
Pair them with some of your favorite yarn and you have yourself a great gift to give!

Want to win the pair we just made...along with this yellow, green and blue cotton?

Leave a comment on this post and I will choose a winner on Friday!

xo
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getting there.

more quilt progress was made...but first:
do I love these because they are my boys or
are they just that awesome?
(and does that sound REALLY full of myself or what?)
I have 42 squares...a cut and ironed...just waiting to be assembled.
Here they are...all laid out...I am not sure how big I thought this would be...
but this is much bigger. :)
And here are my first two rows. This is so exciting.

Would you think less of me to know that I will be sending it out to be quilted?
The way I see it...sending it out to be quilted makes me no less a quilter than sending your photos out to be developed makes a photographer any less a photographer.
Right?

Are you ready to make one?
I'll help...I am going to make another after this...
you can get ready and make yours along with me. :)

The first step is to pick out 12 fabrics...and get a half yard of each.
You CAN do this.
If you can cut and sew straight lines then I mean you.
Go get your fabric.
THIS is my favorite place to buy fabric.

This will be fun.
xo
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on my heart...

Feel free to grab this image and put it where you might need this reminder!

xo
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